What is msiexec.exe? Should I remove it?

by Jake Doevan - -
msiexec.exe

Msiexec.exe is an Microsoft-used component for installation and uninstallation process of applications

Msiexec.exe is a legitimate executable file that users may find running in the Task Manager occasionally. It is a part of a legitimate Windows Installer Component which is responsible for assisting the system when launching MSI (Windows Installer Package) files during the installation or uninstallation of programs. If the Msiexec.exe process is terminated when installing new applications, the procedure will fail entirely. Thus, the genuine process should not be touched, or it might cause serious system performance issues.

Because Msiexec.exe is a commonly used file by Windows XP, 7, 8, or 10, malicious actors may disguise malware by using its name. For example, it is known that users who download cracks and keygens[1] to pirate software or video games might find the malicious version of the executable running the background, and the ramifications could be disastrous. Thus, if you see suspicious signs on your machine (such as system slowdowns, errors, high CPU usage, unexpected mouse movements, etc.), it is best to check Msiexec.exe location – it should reside in C:\Windows\System32 folder.

Name Msiexec.exe
Type Windows process 
Service name Windows Installer – it is responsible for assisting the installation and uninstallation of applications
Developer Microsoft
Location (genuine) Users should find the legitimate version of the file running from C:\Windows\System32 folder
Location (malicious)  The malicious version is located in C:\Users\[UserName]\ or C:\Users\[UserName]\AppData\Local\Temp
Can it be malware?  Hackers may name the malicious executable any name, including Msiexec.exe. Therefore, there is a chance that the file is malicious – the best way to make sure is to scan the device with security software 
Recovery If the file is indeed malicious, you should immediately delete it and then use Reimage Reimage Cleaner as it might help to repair your system files

Other locations of Msiexec.exe might indicate that malware is running the file. For example, other known locations for the file when affected by malware are  C:\Users\[UserName]\ or C:\Users\[UserName]\AppData\Local\Temp. Here's how to check this:

  • Press Ctrl + Shift + Esc simultaneously
  • Once Task Manager opens, click on More details
  • Scroll down to locate Msiexec.exe, right-click on it and pick Properties
  • In the General tab, you should see the location of the file
  • Go to Details tab and check the Copyright line – it should indicate Microsoft Corporation

Additionally, the Msiexec.exe virus would initiate the UAC (User Account Control) window when launching, which users would have to accept for it to run. The text would read the following:

User Account Control

Do you want to allow the following program from an
unknown publisher to make changes to this computer?

Program name: msiexec.exe
Publisher: Unknown
File origin: Hard drive on this computer

Never allow programs from unknown publishes to run on your computer, as there is a high chance that it is malware. In such a case, you should decline the access and then remove Msiexec.exe by using reputable anti-virus software. Depending on the malware type, it might be set to do various things, such as spying on you by logging all keyboard inputs, recording videos or taking screenshots, proliferating other malicious programs, sending spam, etc.

If you already infected the machine with malware, you should not only take care of  Msiexec.exe removal but also make sure that a mess left by it is taken care of. Even after its termination, malware might sometimes corrupt Windows system files, preventing normal PC operation. In such a case, we recommend using Reimage Reimage Cleaner – it may restore the OS, and you will not need to reinstall it.

Beware: software cracks is one of the main malware propagation methods

Malware authors use several methods to make sure that as many users as possible get infected. While spam emails and malicious websites are among the most prominent malware distribution techniques, malicious actors rely on users downloading and installing malware themselves. Unfortunately, this is easy to achieve by using pirated software sites.

Crack tools, keygens, as well as pirated software installers are often infused with malicious code and, while the intended functionality might be launched (i.e., gets the software cracked), the background process will run without users noticing. In most of the cases, Trojans are stealthy and often well-protected against anti-virus detection by using such techniques like fileless infection.

Thus, refrain yourself from downloading cracks and visiting sites that host them – torrents, warez. These websites are rarely strictly regulated and might be inserted with malicious JavaScript[2] that would download and execute the malware payload without user interaction.[3] In such a case, ad-block would stop such behavior.

Finally, make sure you protect your computer with reputable anti-malware software at all times – it can stop many incoming infections.

Terminate Msiexec.exe virus from your computer

As we previously mentioned, Msiexec.exe virus would ask for permission to get installed on your system. Because many users do not know what the file is or if they launch a crack, they would permit such action.

However, once it is granted, the malware infection is imminent, and Msiexec.exe removal might become a problem, as some malware is programmed to disable Windows repair processes or security software installed. 

To remove Msiexec.exe virus safely, you should access Safe Mode and perform a full system scan with anti-malware software from there. Safe Mode is an environment that launches Windows with only necessary drivers and services, which temporarily stops malicious functions of the virus from running.

Msiexec.exe error fix

Malware is now always the main cause of concerns when dealing with computer issues. Another common issue that users encounter is a Msiexec.exe error – it prevents them from uninstalling or installing applications. It states:

C:\Windows\system32\msiexec.exe

Windows cannot access the specified device, path or file. You may not have the appropriate permissions to access the item.

To fix this problem, you should access the Services list and start the Windows Installer service. Follow these steps:

  • Type in Services into Cortana's search box
  • Scroll down to locate Windows Installer
  • Right-click and pick Properties
  • In the Properties window, click on Start under Service Status
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What to do if failed?
If you failed to remove virus damage using Reimage Reimage Cleaner, submit a question to our support team and provide as much details as possible.
Reimage Reimage Cleaner has a free limited scanner. Reimage Reimage Cleaner offers more through scan when you purchase its full version. When free scanner detects issues, you can fix them using free manual repairs or you can decide to purchase the full version in order to fix them automatically.
Alternative Software
Different software has a different purpose. If you didn’t succeed in fixing corrupted files with Reimage, try running SpyHunter 5.
Alternative Software
Different software has a different purpose. If you didn’t succeed in fixing corrupted files with Reimage Cleaner, try running Combo Cleaner.

About the author

Jake Doevan
Jake Doevan - Computer technology expert

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